SOUTHERN MINNESOTA - Republican candidate Allen Quist for 1st District Congress is criticizing his Democratic incumbent opponent Rep. Tim Walz for his decision to cut short the length of the final debate in their proposed three-debate schedule.
Before Quist became the official Republican candidate by winning the Aug. 14 primary, Walz sent out a challenge to all Republican candidates to face off in a series of three 90-minute debates. Quist agreed to the terms of the challenge. He also requested further debates on topics of his choosing, including the Affordable Care Act and the Farm Bill.
The two sides have agreed to two of the 90-minute debates: one in Rochester today at 12 p.m. on economy and jobs and another on Oct. 9 in Mankato through Debate Minnesota.
Recently, the Walz campaign decided to count a 15-minute KSTP television debate as the third debate. Quist has criticized this decision, saying the debate does not fulfil the terms of the Walz's challenge.
"He challenged me publicly to three 90-minute debates," said Quist, "In an election, you want to have as many debates as possible to let people know your positions. A 15-minute debate is just not the same thing."
Quist said he is especially critical of the decision by the Walz campaign because it has turned down several debates that would suffice for the third debate.
The Walz campaign confirmed turning down requests from the League of Women Voters to hold a "moderated forum" in Winona, a request by MPR for live debate and a request by Gustavus Adolphus College's Student Senate to hold a 90-minute debate in St. Peter.
Sara Severs, campaign manager for the Walz campaign, said it decided to turn down the other debates and proceed with KSTP debate to remain flexible with scheduling. She said the campaign will respond to some of the requests, such as a visit to Gustavus without Quist.
"In every election, the candidate has to balance the time spent. We have to balance our time engaging with Mr. Quist against the need to talk with voters of the district," said Severs, "You're never going to get every single thing that you want."
Severs said that the campaign feels it has sufficiently engaged Quist in debate among the three planned debates and the already completed debate at FarmFest.
First debate today
The first official debate between Walz and Quist takes place today in Byron, just outside Rochester, at the Somberby Golf Club. The event will run from 11: 30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with KTTC anchor Tom Overlie moderating. The debate will focus on the economy and jobs. Members of the audience will be able to submit questions near the conclusion of the debate. The event is organized by the Rochester Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Rochester Post-Bulletin, KTTC-TV and Minnesota Public Radio.
The debate will be streaming live at www.ksmq.org
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)